Counting down Our Top Ten List of Discovery Driven Planning misses — Part 2 (5 through 1)

Rita McGrath
10 min readJun 14, 2022

Through Valize, Ron Boire and I have been working with clients to use the tools we have developed to bring Discovery Driven Planning / Discovery Driven Growth to life. Although we’ve got years of experience doing this, and over 100,000,000 hits when you search on the term, it’s still pretty jarring to take on a project with a company only to find the same mistakes popping up over and over. As a public service, therefore, we share our current top 10.

#5: Pouring resources into a thing that your parent corporation is not prepared to support

A surprising result from my dissertation research was that there is a low correlation between the market’s reaction to an offering and how enthusiastic its parent corporation is about it. There are products that get met with lots of customer excitement but which the parent company has little interest in growing, and products that companies are wildly supportive of but to which the market’s reaction is basically “meh.”

The recent high drama back-and-forth over the launch of CNN+ is a great illustration (you can read my detailed observations on this situation here and here). Basically, AT&T and Time Warner (parent company of CNN) decided to merge, on the theory that there were synergies to be had (watch out for that word) marrying the customer base of America’s second largest wireless carrier (largest, if you only count smartphones) to a content provider. Time Warner would provide the reason for customers to increase the depth of their relationship with AT&T; meanwhile knowing who those customers are and how they like to spend their time would give the content people invaluable feedback. They spent $84 billion on the tie-up, fended off the Department of Justice and proved toxic to the then-leadership of the group they purchased who left en masse.

Meanwhile, Jeff Zucker, a legendary leader at CNN, strongly believed in the potential of a dedicated streaming service, to be called CNN + and championed the launch, after selling the idea to the AT&T brass, who gave the green light to a $1 billion budget to get the thing launched. About $300 million was spent by the time of the launch. It’s useful to remember that the AT&T leadership is totally used to throwing billion dollar budgets around. Big capital programs is what they are all about.

Rita McGrath

Columbia Business School Professor. Thinkers50 top 10 & #1 in strategy. Bestselling author of The End of Competitive Advantage & Seeing Around Corners.